10 Beautiful Spots in Bali that are Instagram Worthy

10 Beautiful Spots in Bali that are Instagram Worthy

Bali, the island of Gods needs no introduction. After all, it is the most visited island in South East. In fact, I had almost written Bali off my travel bucket list assuming that every corner here will be touristy, but I couldn’t help being excited when I received an invitation by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia. So late one night in November 2016, I landed here after changing two airplanes from Raja Ampat – tired but ready to fall in love with Bali.

You know what’s the best part about Bali? It is gorgeous! My excitement started right from the airport where I saw an elaborate Hindu temple. It continued as soon as I reached my hotel – Golden Tulip in Seminyak and saw a roof top pool and yet another temple! Next morning, as we travelled around the island, I was happy to notice that the typical Balinese temple like architecture is everywhere, even at gas stations.

I visited Bali as a social media influencer, so of course Instagram was very high on my list. I did a little bit of research about a few spots to visit and want to share them with you. No doubt there are more than ten beautiful spots in Bali (obviously), but here are ten of our favorites.

Bali’s most beautiful spots –

01 | “Doors of Heaven” at Pura Lempuyang

Not just in Bali, but this is definitely one of the most beautiful temples of South East Asia. There are total seven temples in this complex, out of which the first one is the biggest and the most beautiful one. They all offer good views but the first one is the most photographed one, for obvious reasons. All the shots below are pretty similar, but the lighting is different, which causes a dramatic effect.

02 | Penglipuran Village

Penglipuran in North of Bali is a beautifully preserved village which appeared to be unaffected by modernization. For me, this was the most beautiful spot in Bali and I did not want to leave. I Later when I saw the pictures, I realized that it’s a perfect place for photos because of the backdrop of little houses that are lined up next to the main street. What makes it even better is that the street is sloped and provides a view till the end! Here’s my picture which was clicked by the talented Japanese photographer, Genta. If you ever wonder where to stay in Bali, i’d recommend you pick the North or Ubud area, just so that you’re close to this spot.

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Every corner in this village is pretty! Look how cute this picture is –

This village is so pretty, that every corner is instagram-worthy! Look how cute this picture is:

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The same background as the first picture, but it’s a portrait.

This is the same spot as the first picture, but a portrait.

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03 | Bamboo Forest in Bangli

Don’t you just love the roads that are surrounded by perfectly arched trees resulting in a “tunnel” effect? Well, you can find a few of these streets in the village of Kubu Bangli regency. This forest area is very close to Penglipuran village, so you can do #2 and #3 together on the same day!

The below picture is by one of my favorite photographers, Larissa Dening:

Here’s another one by Hikari – a talented Japanese photographer, who is as beautiful as the pictures she clicks.

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The next one was clicked by Trishita (Overrated Outcast), who’s just 20 but does some serious magic with her GoPro. She’s also a GoPro brand ambassador.

Here’s one by Daniel Tran. I love how all of his pictures have a lot of magic, that they look surreal.

 

04 | Ubud’s Rice Paddies and Cafes with views

You can’t leave out Ubud’s pretty rice paddies when you visit Bali. Some people rent bicycles to explore the paddy fields, while others just find a chic café with a view to enjoy Ubud’s beauty. I recommend Desa Tegalalang or Kampung Café for your dose of Ubud. In fact, to make the most of it, you can also book yourself a room at Kampung Resort.

Here’s a picture from Kampung Cafe by Jongbeom Lee:

🌿 초록초록 가득해서 눈이 정화되는 기분😳 #TripOfWonders #WonderfulIndonesia . #A7ii #sel24240

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I love this bird’s eye view of the rice paddies by Will Cho.

Or this green overdose by Michael Turtle:

This shot by Emily makes me want to want to get lost in these rice paddies!

 

 

05 | Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is perhaps the most iconic landmark of Bali. It has been used for years as a cover image for Bali related things such as in flyers, travel articles, picture postcards, etc. This temple is located at the edge of Beratan Lake and you can often catch the reflection of it in the water.

Everything is perfect about this shot, specially the reflection.

Here’s the same temple but from a different angle. Don’t you just love the sky?

And this! Wow

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06 | Pura Tirta Empul

Yes, you must have guessed it by now that everything that starts with “Pura” is a temple. This temple is famous for its bathing area and a dip in its waters is supposed to cleanse you spiritually. The words “Tirta Empul” stand for holy spring in Balinese language.

Here’s a shot of Tirta Empul Temple’s stunning door.

🍂 #tirtaempul

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This is inside the temple, where people bathe inside the water for ritual purification.

 

07 | Banyumala Twin Waterfalls

What’s better than a waterfall? Two waterfalls together. These waterfalls are in North Central part of Bali and getting there is definitely not easy. Many people say that these are the best waterfalls in Bali, but why don’t you see the pictures and decide for yourself?

Look how green everything around this waterfall is!

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How blue is that water!

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08 | Tanah lot temple

Yes, another temple on the list, but I promise it’s the last one. Visit this place a little before the sunset and find a nearby café that overlooks the temple for some stunning photos! Doesn’t the ocean backdrop look stunning?

🌅 #Bali

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Low tide at #Tanahlot #Bali. Hello Guys !

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09 | Tibumana Waterfall

This waterfall is in Bangli area and not so far from the Bamboo forest in point 3. Getting here is not as difficult as Banyumala Waterfalls. The trail that leads to the waterfall is small and is a delight in itself. Everywhere around is jungle and you will hear the sounds of birds. The waterfall itself is small but it is the green area around that makes it very special.

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10 | Ku-De-Ta Lounge and Around

Ku-De-Ta is one of the most famous bars in Bali. The view of the ocean from here is breathtaking, especially around the sunset time. There is a swimming pool inside Ku-De-Ta, which looks very beautiful when the sky turns orange before it gets dark. Not just the bar, but even the beach right outside this place gave us many photo opportunities.
Here’s a picture of the bar and swimming pool inside Ku-De-Ta:

The below three pictures were shot right outside Ku-De-Ta. Look how beautiful this spot looks when sun goes down.

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And this!

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Where to stay in Bali

I stayed in Golden Tulip Devins, which is in Seminyak. It is a very beautiful hotel with a rooftop pool and bar. The rooftop area is amazing for watching sunsets. Some of the rooms here also feature an outdoor Jacuzzis. My room was very comfortable and had everything that I needed (like a hairdryer). The hotel is less than 5 minutes walk from Seminyak beach and the nearby Petitenget Temple. This temple is right on the beach and I got to watch a colorful prayer ceremony here one morning.

Seminyak is Bali’s hip and upscale area and is famous for its nightlife but thankfully is not as crowded as Kuta. To be honest, I didn’t party much except on just one occasion and we found a very cool nightclub near our hotel. If you’re heading to Bali, I strongly recommend you stay here. If you like big breakfasts (like I do), you will really enjoy their buffet – especially strawberry waffles, eggs Benedict, and coffee.

If you want to stay here, you can click here to find deals for Golden Tulip Devins, Seminyak in Bali on Booking.com. I generally prefer Booking.com because of their free cancellation (on most of the hotels) that has saved my life many times. A room at Golden Tulip Devins, Seminyak can cost you anything between $100 to $200 depending on your choice. Or, you can check on Agoda where I usually find prices that are cheaper than the other websites.

Have you ever been to Bali? If so, I would love to know about your favorite photo spots, so please do let me know in the comments.

 

10 Beautiful Spots in Bali that are Instagram Worthy
Beautiful Spots in Bali that are Instagram Worthy
Beautiful Spots in Bali
Disclaimer: I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to their beautiful country but as always, all thoughts in this article are mine.
Raja Ampat Travel Guide – Spectacular Remote Islands in Indonesia

Raja Ampat Travel Guide – Spectacular Remote Islands in Indonesia

Raja Ampat Travel Guide has been written in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia. A big thanks to them for inviting Drifter Planet for a press trip to their beautiful country.

Two months back I died and I went to heaven. Heaven looks like something like this…

Pasir Timbul, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Pasir Timbul in Raja Ampat, Indonesia – Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Yes, it’s true that there are countless destinations around the world that are famous for beaches and marine biodiversity, but there is nothing like Raja Ampat. Why? Because Raja Ampat doesn’t get many visitors and it is easy to enjoy the beauty without the crowds. Moreover, it is a part of the famous “Coral Triangle” that every marine enthusiast and scuba diver knows of. The coral triangle is also called the “Amazon of the seas” because it covers only 1.6% of earth’s oceanic area but has more than 76% of all known coral species in the world.

I spent a few days in Raja Ampat and I got to see some of Raja Ampat Dive Lodgees, colorful marine life, remote villages, and spectacular sunsets and met many wonderful people. Wouldn’t you wanna know more about this slice of paradise?

If you’re lazy to read the entire post, then you can just watch this 2 minute video summary that I made of Raja Ampat. Hope you like it.

 

Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Where is Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is in Indonesia. If you look at the map, you will notice that Indonesia is highly spread out. Raja Ampat is the east most part of Indonesia and is a part of the island group of New Guinea. These set of 1500 islands that collectively form Raja Ampat are in Indonesia’s West Papua province.

How to Reach Raja Ampat

Here’s the thing, good things in life are never easy. That’s the case with Raja Ampat because getting there can require a bit of patience and determination. It took me more than a day to reach Raja Ampat from Yogyakarta with a night stay in Makassar.

To get to Raja Ampat, you need to reach Sorong. Flights to Sorong can be taken from Jakarta or Bali or Yogyakarta or even Singapore (Silk air). These flights will most likely stop in either Manado or Makassar. Once you reach Sorong, you will need to get to the main harbor of Sorong for your ferry to Waisai, which is on the island of Waigeo and is the capital of the Raja Ampat. You can take an express ferry or a slow boat, and both leave in the mornings at 9 am or 11 am, depending on the day. The express ferry takes around 2 hours and the slow boat takes around 5 hours. The white and orange Bahari Express ferries are the fast boats and Fajar Mulia is the name of the slow boat. To reach your final destination, you will need to have your hotel (or homestay) send a boat to Waisai to pick you up.

To recap, refer to the below table:

Flight to Sorong -> Taxi to Sorong Harbor -> Bahari Express ferry OR Fajar Mulia ferry to Waisai -> Boat Transfer to be arranged by your Hotel / Homestay

Where to Stay in Raja Ampat:

Hotels in Raja Ampat

Massive Chessboard on the beach at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge

Massive Chessboard on the beach at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge

I stayed at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, which is on Mansuar Island. Raja Ampat Dive Lodge has a long stretch of private beach right. This white sand beach is right outside this resort’s cute wooden bungalows. If you like to snorkel, you can rent one here and snorkel around the bungalows. The water is crystal clear and I saw a lot of nemos and one lionfish here.

Entry Pier at Raja Ampat Die Lodge - Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Entry Pier at Raja Ampat Die Lodge – Raja Ampat Travel Guide

While I was here, I woke up every morning with a smile because I could here birds singing. As soon as I would open my door, the sight of a spectacular beach would greet me. Perhaps it sounds really cliché, but I had to pinch myself to believe if it was real. It was amazing having my own space and my own private white sand beach right outside the door. Pretty often, I would see a cute little family of ducks out for a morning walk on the beach outside my cottage.

My Private Beach at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge - Raja Ampat Travel Guide

A duck family on my Private Beach at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge – Raja Ampat Travel Guide

My bungalow at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge was very big and airy. It had a sitting area outside where I spent a few mornings. I was happy to see a hair dryer in the bathroom because I never carry one. The room also had a little backyard, which I used pretty often to dry my clothes.

 

Raja Ampat Dive Lodge - Raja Ampat Travel Guide
Raja Ampat Dive Lodge - Raja Ampat Travel Guide
Raja Ampat Dive Lodge - Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Raja Ampat Dive Lodge has a dive shop inside, which is one of the most reputed one here. Not just dive tours, they can also organize island-hopping tours for you. The restaurant serves very good food, which isn’t as spicy as the rest of Indonesia. My best meal here was an amazing seafood barbecue with massive prawns. Yum!

BBQ Seafod, Prawn Crackers and cheesy potato soup at Raja Ampat Dice Lodge

BBQ Seafod, Prawn Crackers and cheesy potato soup at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge

Honestly, this resort is so pretty that I did not want to leave. They have limited number of cottages, so I highly recommend you book it well in advance before it gets sold out. While we were there, it was sold out and some of us had to share rooms. If you’re visiting Raja Ampat, please do yourself a favor and stay in Raja Ampat Dive Lodge. Click here to find the latest deals on rooms here.

Homestays in Raja Ampat

If you’re visiting Raja Ampat on a budget, then staying in a homestay is perhaps the only way that you can save on your costs. It will be an adventure in itself, considering how remote and beautiful Raja Ampat is. Most of these homestays will arrange to pick you up from Waisai island main pier. The prices for most of these vary between $25 to $29 for one person and $50 – $53 for two – check out the deals at Corepen Homestay, Indip Homestay or Indip Homestay – all of them are gorgeous.

Things to do in Raja Ampat

01 | Scuba Dive / Snorkel

Raja Ampat's marine life - Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Raja Ampat’s marine life – Raja Ampat Travel Guide

The first point is pretty much obvious. The marine life in Raja Ampat looked like it was right out of a documentary. I saw many different kinds of fish, in a lot of and colors and sizes. If you are not a diver, then please at least spend a few hours snorkeling to because here, it is the BEST in the world.

Right outside Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, I got to see clownfish, angelfish, parrotfish, and lionfish. Obviously I saw many more but I’m not so good with fish names. When we went to our first dive site, I was amazed at the density of marine life. Orange, purple, green, blue – I was surrounded by different colors as I snorkeled around.

Sadly, I couldn’t scuba dive here because it was necessary to have finished 20 dives but I had just done just two (Yes, it sucks)! Even then, the snorkeling experience was extraordinary because of the density.

Finding Nemo - Clownfish in Raja Ampat

Finding Nemo – Clownfish in Raja Ampat

As I mentioned before, Raja Ampat is a part of Coral Triangle, which has the most diverse marine life on the planet. It has obviously been mentioned as one of the top scuba diving locations in the world by a lot of travel guides. Oh and btw, we also spotted a walking shark (epaulette) in the mangroves near the pier of our hotel. (Don’t worry, they are harmless)

02 | Visit Pasir Timbul and Witness Nature’s Magic

Pasir Timbul, Raja Ampat - the most beautiful beach I've seen

Pasir Timbul, Raja Ampat – the most beautiful beach I’ve seen

If someone asked me to describe paradise, I’d narrate a picture of Pasir Timbul. Any words that I say won’t do any justice to the beauty but I’ll try my best. It is the most beautiful beach that I have ever seen in my life. Too bad, my GoPro lens was foggy and I wasn’t able to get the best shots.

Pasir Timbul is an area in the ocean where the sand emerges out for a few hours a day to form small sand patches. This happens when the tide is low and gradually disappears as the tide moves high. Our boat anchored at a distance of around 500 meters from here because the ocean bed is shallow here.

As the boat stopped, the view made me jump with joy. I’m not exaggerating, so here’s a picture that you can see and judge for yourself.

First View - Pasir Timbul from the boat

First View – Pasir Timbul from the boat

After this point, we had to walk (or swim) in order to reach the beaches. And yes, there was more than one beach because the sand had emerged to form mini islands. There were sandbars that connected these islands and it was fun to walk on them. I will stop describing now because you should read my travel guide for Pasir Timbul if you want to know more. 😉

Read: Raja Ampat Dive Lodge

03 | Climb up to the famous Pianemo Viewpoint of Raja Ampat

Pianemo Viewpoint - Raja Ampat Travel Guide by Drifter Planet

Pianemo Viewpoint – Raja Ampat Travel Guide by Drifter Planet

Pianemo Viewpoint is the most famous viewpoint of Raja Ampat and is usually the cover image of most of the travel guides and magazines about this destination. I’m sure you would have seen a picture of this at some point somewhere. Yes, it is as beautiful as those pictures.

Reaching here took us around 30 minutes on a boat from the hotel. My hangover disappeared as we anchored our boat outside the entry point where the steps began, because it was so goddamn beautiful! Everywhere around us the water was clear greenish-blue.

The steps were many but I was in a hurry to get there so I literally ran up. When I reached up, it was empty and I got some amazing pictures without anyone in them. This kind of reminded me of the amazing viewpoints in Palawaan that I a little less than a year back. Click here if you want to decide which one you like more?

After the viewpoint, we walked back down and jumped into the water for a swim. To be honest, the water was not clear here so we couldn’t see any marine life.

 

04 | Meet the beautiful locals of Arborek Village Island

Beautiful children of Arborek village - Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Beautiful children of Arborek village – Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Honestly, I knew nothing of Arborek Village and neither was I expecting too much. But I was so happy when I reached here because it was an experience to remember.

There were easily 100 village people waiting for us as our boat reached Arborek Village. Which was surprising because that’s literally half the population of the island. Several smiling children stood outside and were dressed in their traditional attire. We were informed that they had prepared a welcome performance for us.

As we stepped on the pier, those children came forward and started singing and dancing for us. It was the sweetest and the most beautiful welcome that I have ever received in my life and I had to hide a tiny tear at the end of their performance.

We were told not to click any pictures or to make any videos during their performance. For whatever reasons it may be, it was a good thing because everyone saw them through their eyes, instead of the camera screens.

After the welcome, the kids held out hands and led us inside their village. Everyone else followed us, and walked behind us singing. Many of us danced while walking so it felt like we were a part of a parade.

As we walked, we saw a continuous strip of beach on our right. On our left were a few colorful huts and I wish that one was mine. Considering the welcome that we received, I would have still liked this place if it wasn’t pretty but just like everything in Raja Ampat, this was magical. The beach here was actually very beautiful because it was wide, long and shady. As you can see the the picture, the sand was sugary white and the water was very blue. Due to the abundance of trees on the beach, it was possible to find many shady spots.

We must have walked for just 500 meters when the beach became wider. We decided to sit here to enjoy the beach for most of our time in Arborek.

Singing with the locals on the beach at Arborek Village - Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Singing with the locals on the beach at Arborek Village – Raja Ampat Travel Guide

The island is very small so it is easy see pretty much everything by walking. We saw a church, a school and a few homestays. After exploring and swimming around, we saw under a tree and listened to the villages sing songs while playing their handmade instruments. After while, it was time to enjoy a delicious lunch that the locals had cooked for us. Obviously there was a lot of fish.

05 | Visit the School Kids at Taman Bacaan Pelangi

Adorable school kids at School Kids at Taman Bacaan Pelangi

Adorable school kids at School Kids at Taman Bacaan Pelangi

Taman Bacaan Pelangi or Rainbow Reading Gardens is a non-profit group that builds libraries for children in remote villages of Indonesia. We visited this place as soon as arrived in Raja Ampat and met 100s of school children.

These children were very excited to meet us and just like the ones in Arborek, they welcomed us by performing. Right after that, we sat with them and read some of their books with them and answered their army of questions.

I knew Bollywood was big in other countries, but I never realized the magnitude till the time I reached Indonesia. I was presently surprised when I saw how the children at Taman Bacaan Pelangi School sang songs from Hindi movies.

I met Nila, the girl whose passion led her to start Taman Bacaan Pelangi. Not just Raja Ampat, but her organization has made 38 more children libraries in remote parts of Indonesia. Aren’t these kids cute? You can help Nila build more such libraries and provide resources for many other children in Indonesia by Raja Ampat Dive Lodge.

Read: Raja Ampat Dive Lodge

06 | Visit Sawinggrai Village (or Sawing Ray Village)

Sawinggrai Village - Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Sawinggrai Village – Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Sawing Ray or Sawinggrai Village is a tiny fisherman village in Raja Ampat. It is a typical authentic Papuan village with slow life. There is a lot to see above and below water here. I visited this village twice when I was in Raja Ampat and was surprised to see how the color of the water looks different on both sides of the jetty as the sun moves. Exactly for this, this village’s main pier is an excellent spot for both, sunrise and sunset.

Sawinggrai Village - Raja Ampat Travel Guide

Sawinggrai Village – Raja Ampat Travel Guide

In Sawinggrai Village, there are many colorful huts above the water and small walking paths. Below the water I saw some amazing corals and many colorful fish. I carried some bread with me to feed the fishes near the pier and I was amazed at the density. I don’t know the name if this black and white stripped fish but I saw it all over Palawan too! Do you know the name?

Beautiful Hut in Sawinggrai Village, Raja Ampat - Raja Ampat Travel Guide
Sawinggrai Village - Raja Ampat Travel Guide
Homestay in Sawinggrai Village - Raja Ampat Travel Guide

The best time to come here is late evening to catch the sunset or early morning to see the sunrise or for birdwatching. Yes, birdwatching, which brings me to my next point.

07 | Go for Bird watching to see the Birds of Paradise

Red Bird of Paradise Raja Ampat - Photo by Time Travel Turtle

Red Bird of Paradise Raja Ampat – Photo by Time Travel Turtle

If you’re a fan of Planet Earth series like I am, chances are you have seen the dance of Birds of Paradise. Red bird of Paradise and Cendrawasih (a kind of Bird of Paradise) can be sometimes spotted in Sawinggrai Village. So how do you find these pretty creatures? Pretty much every hotel or homestay can arrange to take you on an early morning tour to the spots inside the forest where these birds perform their famous mating dance.

 

08 | Visit Kabui Bay

My Indonesian Travel Buddies at Kabui Bay - Raja Ampat Travel Guide

My Indonesian Travel Buddies at Kabui Bay – Raja Ampat Travel Guide

While Pianemo Viewpoint is the more famous one, Kabui Bay viewpoint is also quite pretty. You can visit here along with Pasir Timbul, one after another on the same day. Unlike Pianemo Viewpoint, you don’t have to climb really high for the view. There is a little standing platform on one of the limestone rocks that can easily fit 20 people.

Personally, I prefer the view from Pianemo Viewpoint over Kabui Bay because we got a bird eye view. I highly recommend you check the weather forecast beforehand because it doesn’t look very nice when it rains.

Weather in Raja Ampat and When to Visit

In Raja Ampat, there can be massive variations in the weather conditions between different islands. Since it is a tropical destination, Raja Ampat is warm and can be visited throughout the year. It temperature usually remains between 27 – 32° C.  It can rain anytime for short durations. It rained when I visited the Pianemo Viewpoint. The best time to visit Raja Ampat is from the months of October to April. If you’re visiting just to scuba dive, then you need to know that many dive shops don’t operate from July and September due to heavy rains.

Travel Tips for Raja Ampat

I want to share a few travel tips for Raja Ampat based on my experience there. I’m not mentioning the obvious ones like carrying a sunscreen or a waterproof bag, etc., because I assume you know that already.

01 | Travel Expenses and Budgeting

I will be honest – Raja Ampat is not a cheap destination, but is a luxury destination. Not only is the cost of getting there is high but so is the internal boat transport. I wouldn’t have been able to afford visiting a destination like this on my own if the Indonesian government didn’t sponsor me.

Although staying in Raja Ampat can be cheap if you book village homestays, it is the cost of getting there is what makes Raja Ampat an expensive travel destination. I went two months back (November 2016) and it took us two flights, two boats and one bus to reach here. Obviously if you total up all the costs, it’s not cheap.

If you can afford the cost of getting there, that’s amazing because you can find a homestay to make the rest of your holiday affordable. You can reduce your costs further if your homestay is centrally located so that you don’t have to spend a lot on internal boat transfers. Pick one in Arborek Village or Sawinggrai Village so that you’re closer to the places which I have written about.

Normally I don’t like planning things before my trips but Raja Ampat is one such destination where planning is essential if you want to save money. Make sure you speak to your hotel / homestay about boat transfers while booking.

Read: Havelock Island of the Andaman Island Group

02 | Scuba Diving in Raja Ampat

If you are a newbie diver (like me) and want to travel to Raja Ampat just to scuba dive, I’d recommend you speak to a few dive shops first. Most of the dives sites in Raja Ampat are for advanced divers with at least 20 dives in their logbook. It is because the currents are very strong and can take to the edge of the reef. But don’t be disappointed if you can’t scuba dive there because the snorkeling experience there is something you will remember for life.

03 | Prepare to be in a Remote Area

Raja Ampat is not like Bali or Palawan where you will find shops that sell basic needs. Most of the areas in Raja Ampat are so remote that you won’t find anything apart from your hotel. Pack strategically and carry everything that you may need for the time you’re there. The closest city like area is in Sorong, which will be a few hours boat ride away from your place of staying.

04 | ATMs in Raja Ampat

I’m sure you would have realized by now that Raja Ampat is really remote and yes, there are no ATMs here. A few hotels do accept cards but you need to plan and carry more than enough cash because the card machines may not always be working.

05 | Mosquito Repellent

Like most of the tropical island destinations, the mosquitos in Raja Ampat are vicious. Carry an herbal insect repellent with citronella or coconut so that you don’t cause any damage to the marine life when you swim. Using a coconut oil really helps but you need to reapply it often. 

06 | Time Zone in Raja Ampat

I have never mentioned time zone in any of my travel tips for anywhere, however I think it’s important that you should know. Indonesia has three time zones because it is spread out over many different longitudes. The time zones of Jakarta, Bali and Raja Ampat are all different. Due to low network connectivity, your phone clock may not auto update, so please check with the locals and adjust your clock. It was hilarious how many of us were confused with the time while we were in Raja Ampat because to reach here we had to change three different time zones. If you don’t want to miss your early morning bird watching session or sunrise photography, do keep this point in mind.

Travel Costs for Raja Ampat

To help you get an idea, I have divided the travel costs for Raja Ampat in different sections. You can use this as a ballpark figure to plan your travel expenses. I will try to update these costs on a regular basis but I suggest you do a little bit of your own research as well after reading this article.

  • Flights: Return flights from Jakarta / Bali to Sorong: USD 200 – 250
  • Permit Fee for international visitors: USD 75 (or IDR 1,000,000)
  • Ferry from Sorong to Waisai: USD 10 (or IDR 130,000) for one way.
  • Room: Hotel: USD 150 – 200 per night (usually includes diving) ; Homestay: USD 50 per night
  • Boat Tours: USD 55 – 105 per person (depending on the route)
  • Cost of a beer at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge: USD 5 (or 60,000 IDR)

So are you ready to see some of the most beautiful beaches, corals and marine life that’s on our planet? Plan a trip to Raja Ampat today.

Have you visited Raja Ampat already?

Considering there are 1500 islands in the archipelago of Raja Ampat, I have probably seen just a fraction of this wonderland. If you have been there already then please share your tips and recommendations with me in comments.

You may also like reading about the below destinations:

Yogyakarta, Indonesia – 13 Things I did here that I had never done before

Best Islands of the World

Palawan, the Philippines

Bohol, the Philippines

Panglao Island, Bohol – Our Favorite Place in the Philippines

Panglao Island, Bohol – Our Favorite Place in the Philippines

Panglao Island is a tiny island attached to the south-west tip of the main island of Bohol in the Philippines. It is very close to Cebu island as well.

We wanted white sand, blue water, beautiful nature and loads of peace. A little research suggested that the Philippines was the place for it all. Boracay or El Nido? These are the two main destinations we heard about when we booked our tickets to visit the Philippines. The more we read about Boracay, the more we did not want to visit. A deeper research suggested we pay Bohol a visit for its famous chocolate hills, tarsier sanctuary and Loboc river. But where to stay in Bohol? We were looking for a place that was not crowded and where it was possible to explore on a scooter. With a little luck, we found a place called Panglao Island.

Too Lazy to read this post? Watch this video!

If you’re lazy like us, we urge you to watch this video that we have made with a lot of love. This is our second travel video and you’re gonna LOVE the underwater footage that we made using our brand new GoPro Hero 4 (Black). Oh and if you’re wondering how come we didn’t lose our GoPro in the sea is because we have this awesome Go Pro outdoor kit which has a yellow float-able stick that prevents the camera from sinking, even if you’re clumsy like us!

SPOILER: this video has a cute little tarsier, a banded eel that’s pretending to be a snake (Belcher’s sea snake) and more!

 

Why we fell in love with Panglao Island

Panglao was our first destination when we visited the Philippines in February and March 2016 and towards the end of the trip we realized it was the best out of all. Here’s why:

01 | Affordable rooms, food, scooter – this of course tops our list because we’re budget travelers. When compared to the other destinations we visited, Panglao island was cheaper in every aspect. It’s easy to find many places to eat where only locals visit unlike many other places that we visited in the Philippines.

Simple Filipino Food in Panglao Island

Simple Filipino Food in Panglao Island – everything here costed us less than 200 pesos

02 | Not yet crowded (unlike Palawan / Boracay / Cebu, etc) – The only crowded place on this island is Alona beach and even that’s not as crowded as El Nido’s or Boracay’s main beaches.

03 | Stunning beaches and a few of them were empty! – Panglao Island’s beaches are exactly how you see them in travel magazines. They have white sand, blue water and are fringed with trees.

Doljo Beach on Panglao Island, Bohol

Doljo Beach on Panglao Island, Bohol

04 | Many places to explore on our own without taking tours – The Philippines is a beautiful country and every corner has many natural attractions that are worth a visit. While in Palawan, we had to opt for a few tours to see some attractions because it was extremely expensive to hire our own boat and explore ourselves. However, on Panglao island it was possible for us to visit pretty much whatever we wanted on our own and at our own pace on a rented scooter.

05 | Typical “Island Vibe” – Panglao island has a very laidback and typical “island vibe” that reflects in its slow life. This is exactly what we wanted from our vacation but unfortunately did not feel this way when we were in other destinations.

How to Reach Panglao Island

Fly to Tagbilaran airport and catch a tricycle to Panglao Island for around ₱ 200 – 300 pesos. The ride takes 20 minutes.

Fly to Cebu city, head to Pier 1 and board a ferry for Tagbilaran for ₱ 400 pesos. To save money, you can catch a bus from Cebu city airport to the closest point and then take a taxi to Pier 1. You will notice the bus sign as you exit the airport. Ask the staff at the counter for more details. The ferry will take around 2 hours. Once you reach Tagbilaran pier, you can catch a tricycle to Panglao Island for around ₱ 200 – 300 pesos.

Option 1 makes more sense but usually the airfare to Cebu city is much lower as compared to Tagbilaran, so pick option 2 if you don’t mind a longer journey to save money.

Where to stay on Panglao Island:

Alona Beach is the most famous and crowded part of this island because its where most of the people stay. To avoid the crowds, we found an affordable place which was 2.5 KMs ahead of Alona beach – Mabuhay Breeze Resort. This place was exactly what we wanted because it was on the empty part of the road with hardly anything around. We did find a karaoke bar near this place which was just a few steps away. Our first night in the Philippines was spent singing in this Karaoke bar with a few locals and drinking Tanduay rum.

This is Panglao Island, Bohol

This is Panglao Island, Bohol

We paid around USD 15$ for a charming hut for two (around ₱ 700 pesos). The reception area had a bar, a free water refilling station, charging points, free Wifi and a few adorable cats. There was a large swimming pool after the reception area with huts around it. Alternatively, you can also stay at Panglao Chocolate Hills Resort which is 5 KMs before Alona beach and very close to another beautiful beach of this island – White Beach. Other affordable places are Moon Fools Hostel, Bohol Coco Farm Hostel, and Dormitels PH Alona Beach.

Things to do in Panglao Island (and around)

01 | Beach bumming: Alona beach, White Beach (Libaong White Beach), Doljo Beach

Even though Alona beach is the most crowded of all, it’s definitely worth a visit because it’s pretty. The best part of this beach is towards the extreme left side as you enter.

Alona Beach of Panglao Island, Bohol

Alona Beach of Panglao Island, Bohol

If you want to avoid the crowd, I highly recommend you visit White Beach, which is 5 KMs before Alona beach. Many locals did not know about it (maybe they have a different name for it) but we found it on google maps. It has a few wooden cabins near the beach where you can keep your stuff and head for a swim. It was empty whenever we visited it.

White Beach, Panglao Island, Bohol

White Beach, Panglao Island, Bohol

We found another beautiful beach on this island just by accident when we lost our way – Doljo Beach. It’s a very large beach with shallow water that was full of pretty little starfishes.

Doljo Beach on Panglao Island, Bohol

Doljo Beach on Panglao Island, Bohol

There are other beaches such as Bikini beach, Momo beach but are not as nice as the main three.

02 | Hire a scooter and drive around aimlessly

Riding around in our scooter was perhaps the best thing we did while we were here. It was definitely one of our most beautiful drives because the roads were empty and the scenery that surrounded us was spectacular. We saw many villages, beautiful paddy fields, buffaloes chilling in the water, banana plantation, Loboc river, many dense trees that formed a tunnel over the road and a lot of cute Filipino children that were excited to see us and hi-fived us as we rode around them.

03 | Scuba diving and Snorkeling

Head to one of the beaches with your snorkel and you are guaranteed to see a lot of underwater beauty. Look at this banded eel which we saw on Alona beach! (Yes we thought for a while that it’s a Belcher’s sea snake).

Looks like Belcher's sea snake but its a Banded Eel on Alona Beach

Looks like Belcher’s sea snake but its a Banded Eel on Alona Beach

If you swim around Alona beach, the seabed looks like a garden with many sea urchins, starfishes and small fishes. If you want to see more, then do sign up for a dive at a PADI dive shop.

04 | Drive to Carmen to see the famous Chocolate Hills!

Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines

Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines

The drive to the famous Chocolate hills from Alona beach area was around 3 hours but it was definitely worth it as you can read in point 2. As you reach Carmen, a town in Bohol that’s famous for these hills, the landscape changes drastically and these hills start popping up on both the sides. After paying a fee of ₱ 50 per person, you can climb on the highest of these chocolate hills for a stunning view. You will notice thousands of these cone shaped symmetrical hills around you that are covered with grass. During the dry season, the grass on these hills turns chocolate brown and these hills resemble Hershey’s kisses, hence the name – Chocolate Hills. As per scientific research, these grassy hills were once coral reefs that erupted from the sea over hundreds of thousands of years ago. Do remember to carry water in your backpack because it’s expensive on the main hill. Please drive around the hills too! The village is beautiful and it’s easy to get lost in the nature here.

05 | Visit Tarsier Sanctuary

When in the Philippines, a visit to a tarsier sanctuary is a must do. Tarsiers are super cute monkey like animals that are unfortunately endangered. These animals are just 8 – 16 cms big, which is usually the size of a grown up’s hand.

 

These cuties are shy and like to stay in dark areas because exposure to light can damage their big eyes.  They are nervous little things that get stressed out when they are touched or if there’s noise around them.

A cute little Tarsier in Bohol

A cute little Tarsier in Bohol

The fee to enter the tarsier sanctuary was ₱ 40 per person we could stay inside for as long as we wanted. This sanctuary is located in Loboc town of Bohol and it takes only 1-2 hours on a scooter from Alona beach. It is on the way to Carmen so it’s possible to visit the Tarsier sanctuary and chocolate hills on the same day.

06 | Dive with a whale shark

San with a whaleshark in Oslob, Cebu

San with a whaleshark in Oslob, Cebu

Diving or snorkeling with whale sharks is possible in Oslob (Cebu) but it’s easy to access this area from Panglao Island. We did not want to stay in Oslob because it appeared to be crowded but we rented a boat from Alona beach that took us to Oslob. We paid ₱ 700 per person for the round trip boat ride but we found this price after a lot of bargaining. Once in Oslob, we paid ₱ 1000 per person to snorkel for 40 minutes with the whale sharks.

A whale shark in Oslob, Cebu

A whale shark in Oslob, Cebu – Look at the size!

We had heard all sorts of horrible things about Oslob but we were pleasantly surprised. Yes, it is crowded and expensive but they don’t let a lot of people in the water at the same time. They also don’t let people wear sunscreen because it harms the whale sharks. We were asked to maintain a distance of a meter from the whale sharks but these overly friendly underwater giants did not want to leave us alone. It was a surreal experience swimming with them. Many people say that the whale shark diving should not be encouraged because they pull these animals out of their natural habitat by luring them with shrimp which causes imbalances in nature.

07 | Hinagdanan cave or Cambagat Cave

It costs ₱ 50 to enter Hinagdanan cave which has many stalactites and a lake at the bottom. It costs extra to swim in the lake. You can skip this attraction if you have seen other bigger caves.

08 | Visit Loboc River

Loboc River, Bohol

Loboc River, Bohol

Loboc river is a clear water river in Bohol. Many people opt for river cruises but I suggest you just drive around it and find a corner where you can sit next to it. We saw many cute little huts around this river. As we crossed the bridge over it, we could see the bottom of the river because the water was very clear. A few tour operators organize firefly watching tours along this river and there is a floating restaurant on it.

09 | Shell Museum

Nova Shell museum has a massive collection of shells of many different shapes, sizes and colors.  All these shells have been collected by Quirino Hora and they form one of the biggest collections in the world. It costs ₱ 50 to enter the museum and it’s open from 8 am to 5 pm. Arrive early because the collection is massive.

10 | Dolphin Watching

We did not do this but this is one of the many things you can do while you’re on Panglao island. These tours leave early morning from Alona beach. Why did we not do this? Because we are not fans of group tours and we have already seen dolphins in their natural habitat in Gokarna, India.

11 | Island Hopping – Virgin Island and Balicasag

You will find many boat operators on Alona beach who will try to sell you a tour to these islands. Virgin island is famous for its beautiful beach and Balicasag Island has its own marine sanctuary. You can skip this if you are planning on visiting Siete Pecados marine park in Coron.

Overall, we felt that our time on Panglao Island was the most fun that we had in the Philippines because of variety of possibilities of things to do in and around this place.

Have you visited Panglao Island and have a few tips of your own to add? Let me know in the comments section!

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Panglao Island, Bohol, the Philippines - Pin it!

Panglao Island, Bohol, the Philippines – Pin it!

A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sonal Kwatra Paladini

Maya Bay: The BEST Way to Experience “The Beach”

Maya Bay: The BEST Way to Experience “The Beach”

Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.
– Richard of The Beach movie

Leo on The BeachEvery month, thousands of determined tourist groups land in Thailand’s famous Phi Phi islands for their dose of the legendary “The Beach”! Yes, the very beach that was made famous by “The Beach” movie of 2000 – after all, it was the highlight of the movie!

Where exactly is “The Beach”?

Phi Phi islands is a group of five islands in the Andaman sea. The only populated island is the biggest island – Koh Phi Phi Don. However, “The Beach” is Maya bay of the uninhabited Koh Pi Phi Leh. Actually, the island is not completely uninhabited – the lucky island warden gets to live there.

Our Obsession with “The Beach” (the movie and Maya Bay – both)

The only downer is, everyone’s got the same idea.

 – Richard of The Beach movie

A few years back, my best friend and I also decided to visit “The Beach”. However, there was ONE problem that was glaring at our faces. We saw many people’s vacation pictures and to our dismay, Maya Bay appeared to be disgustingly full in all the pictures.  We also read on many blog websites where people had complained that the bay was full of longtail boats bringing tourists in large numbers from the nearby Krabi, Phuket and Ko Phi Phi Don. In most of the pictures, the beach was not visible at all because it had too many people on it!

Just like the movie, we also wanted to run around on empty Maya Bay, swim close to the fishes and with the planktons at night, sleep under the glittering stars, wake up in the morning on an empty beach and run around again!

Nevertheless, we were not ready to give up. We hunted for a few days but we finally found the perfect solution! We found that only ONE way where we could do all of above, have the island to ourselves AND watch the sunset and sunrise too! How?

Well, there’s only one tour operator has the permit to take people to this island before and after the tourist hours. They don’t take 25 people, which is perfect! The tour starts after lunch and ends next day after breakfast. So overall – it’s 25 (or less) people on a beautiful island with no one else! Read to find out more about this.

The Adventure Begins:

On our visit to Phi Phi Island, we were short of time because we decided to spend only 2 days on this island. Out of the two days, one half of our second day was spent scuba diving. We ended up paying for only one night for our room because we dropped our luggage early for our Maya Bay tour.

We boarded our tour boats that had ONLY 10 other people from different countries – so in total we were 12 people on that island plus the crew. Speaking of the crew – there were only 5 people and they managed the show well. Over a fruit platter on the deck, our tour guide – Kai broke the ice and got everyone to socialize. After all, we were all going to spend a day together.

The Viking Cave near Maya Bay

The Viking Cave near Maya Bay

We cruised around in blue waters, stopped near the Viking cave for a few photos and stopped the boat in the middle of nowhere. Here we had an option to do kayaking and snorkeling – or both.

Viking Cave up close

Viking Cave up close

Magical Snorkeling and my mermaid moment:

This is the spot where I had the best snorkeling experience!

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As I went underwater, hundreds of fishes swam around my head – almost kissing my face. I could see three different schools of fish all floating in different directions.  Time stood still as I looked around under water sinking in the beauty. In that moment, I was a mermaid and it was better than what I had seen in any movie! I did not have an underwater camera so I tried to make a mental video to remember for life.

After a bit of snorkeling and kayaking, it was time to go back to the boat. Because of the tide, the boat couldn’t enter Maya Bay so we had to take a different and more dangerous route to enter Ko Phi Phi Ley. From the boat we had to climb on a rope ladder to the slippery cliffs. Getting on the ladder was not easy because the waves were strong, but it got simpler after that. We walked around the island for a few minutes and finally reached our destination.

Welcome to Maya Bay – “The Beach”

We were finally on Maya Bay! The sensory delight that greeted us took our breath away.

Empty Maya Bay: Rosh and I couldn't believe our luck!

Empty Maya Bay: Rosh and I couldn’t believe our luck!

  • The sight of this Paradise beach
  • The sound of waves and birds
  • The touch of the soft sand on our feet
  • The smell of the sea and the trees
  • A taste of salt on our lips from the sea air

Our five senses thanked us for waking them up!

It felt incredible and wrong at the same time that we were the ONLY ones of this island and privileged few to enjoy it just to ourselves!

Maya Bay

Look how pretty Maya Bay looks when it’s empty!

Anyway, my friend and I walked around the island for a while. The island is tiny and had a lot of greenery. People who visit usually are so enchanted by the beach that they don’t end up exploring the forest area.

Maya Bay Forest2

The Forest area in Phi Phi Leh

After an aimless walk and a small island exploration, we headed back to the beach and found our perfect spot in a cove to enjoy the sunset with Chang beer.

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We met the rest of the group at the designated time to enjoy the delicious barbecue and a Thai bucket.  We all sat around in circle, spent the entire evening exchanging travel stories, playing silly drinking games and eating delicious food. By the way – all the food and one bucket was included in the cost of this tour.

Drinking Games at night on Maya Bay

Drinking Games at night on Maya Bay

Swimming with the Plankton at Maya Bay

Somewhere around the midnight, Kai announced that it was time for a night swim! We jumped into the water to swim with hundreds of tiny star-like bio luminescent phytoplankton. Commonly known as plankton, they sparkled like a starry sky as we moved through the dark water and they glow only if you move around in the water.

Time to sleep under the stars on Maya Bay

Post our swim, we went back to our boat that was moored 30-50 meters off the beach. We chose our sleeping spots on the deck of our big boat under the stars. Sleep came to us easily since we were all extremely tired from our action packed day.

Good Morning Maya Bay – Empty Beach! (And the customary jump shot)

The boat crew woke us up early morning to make the most of our last few hours. We walked around and noticed that the first set of private tour boats had started arriving. In that instant we felt extremely lucky since now knew how it felt to experience “The Beach” the best way.

Kai announced that it was time for a jump shot. The funny part – there were 10 different cameras and he made at least 5 photos from each so we all ended up jumping 50 times! Was it worth it? Well, see the picture and decide for yourself!

Customary Jump Shot on Empty Maya Bay

Customary Jump Shot on Empty Maya Bay

The Name of the Tour: Maya Bay Sleep Aboard

Price: THB 3000

Was it worth it? Well if you look at the money, you save on one room night and all the meals for 24 hours as well as one rum or vodka bucket PLUS if you count the money you would have spent on an island tour + snorkeling + kayaking + night swim, this is definitely a win!

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I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, ’cause it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something, and if you find that moment… it lasts forever…  

– Richard of The Beach Movie

We found our paradise moment on Maya Bay. Where was yours?

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Maya Bay: The BEST way to experience "The Beach". We had the island to ourselves from sunset to sunrise! by DrifterPlanet.com

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A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sonal Kwatra Paladini

55 Best Islands in the world: REVEALED by Top Travel Writers

55 Best Islands in the world: REVEALED by Top Travel Writers

Don’t you just love islands?

Exotic and mysterious spots surrounded by blue as far as the eye can see. Stunning landscapes that you just can’t find anywhere else. The perfect vacation spot far away from the “real world”! Most islands have miles and MILES of beaches. Some have mountains, waterfalls, forests, lakes or even snow.

Which island should you visit next? 

To help you answer that question, we asked 55 of the world’s top travel bloggers about what their favorite island destination are.

Here are the 55 Best Islands in the world: REVEALED by Top Travel Writers –

1) El Nido (Philippines) – Sabrina Iovino of Just One Way Ticket

El Nido (Philippines),

El Nido (Philippines)

I completely fell in love with the archipelago of El Nido in the Philippines, so many islands, lagoons and beaches. The place is spectacular and surely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been.

2) Skellig Michael (Ireland) – Janet Newenham of Journalist On The Run

Skellig Michael, Ireland

Skellig Michael, Ireland

Skellig Michael is the most incredible island I have ever been to. The island is very remote, located 11km off the West coast of Ireland, and is one of the oldest settlements in Ireland, dating back to the 6th century when a Christian Monastery was built there. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to thousands of Atlantic Puffins which you can photograph up close.

3) Cozumel (Mexico) – Lance and Laura of Travel Addicts

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico

Off the coast of Mexico is the island of Cozumel, probably the most beautiful Island we’ve ever visited.  A large island with a storied Mayan past, the real beauty of Cozumel comes under the water – it is part of world’s second longest barrier reef system and is the place for world-class scuba diving and snorkeling.  The island features the best drift diving anywhere in the world!

4) Zanzibar (Tanzania) – Alana and Matt of Great Big Globe

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar, also known as Spice Island, is located off the coast of Tanzania. It’s home to the whitest sand and bluest water we have ever seen. There are plenty of opportunities for scuba diving, snorkeling and dolphin watching. Plus, Zanzibar is one of the few places in the world where saffron is produced!

5) Mallorca (Spain) – Sam Wood of Infinite Adventure

Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca, Spain

While Europe might not immediately spring to mind when thinking of beautiful islands around the world, there are certainly some gems to be found here. One of them is most definitely Mallorca, part of the Balearic island group in the Mediterranean. Despite being a very popular, and in lots of ways typically touristy island to visit, there are absolutely some more secluded parts of the island to discover. In particular, the stretch of coast along the northwest of the island is home to some of the most beautifully rugged landscape on Mallorca, where sheer cliffs covered in pine trees drop dramatically into the deep blue water surrounding it.

6) Easter Island (Chile) – Eva Abal of Una idea, un viaje

Easter Island (Chile)

Easter Island (Chile)

Being the most isolated island of the planet, this island is all about mystery. It is famous for its enormous 887 surviving statues called Moai. There’s a mystery about the Moai because no one knows how they got here.  Additionally, the natives of Easter Island are called Rapa Nui people, who have their own language, rules and beliefs that will absolutely amaze you.

Easter Island has only 18 Km from side to side but it will magically try to keep you there and discover its secrets, such as beautiful craters of former volcanos, paradisiac beaches, lovely viewpoints.

7) Maui in Hawaii (USA) – Nat and Tim of A Cook Not Mad

Maui, USA

Maui, USA

Maui is one of the prettiest of the Hawaiian Islands with sections that remain as they were decades ago. The people are warm and welcoming and although it is technically part of the US, it’s like being in a different country.

8) Gozo (Malta) – Suzanne Wolko of Phila Travel Girl

Gozo, Malta

Gozo, Malta

Gozo surprised me with the most amazing views. My mom had no idea where I was only saying “I googled it and you are near Sicily? Are you still in Italy?”  I didn’t like the island when we first arrived but quickly fell for its charms and didn’t want to leave.

9) Vanuatu (Republic of Vanuatu Island Country) – Paula and Gordon of ContentedTraveller

Vanuatu (Island Country),

Vanuatu (Island Country),

Vanuatu is your archetypal paradisiacal tropical island that is not too overrun by tourists. We found the friendliest people here, and lots of different thing to see and to do. The sheer beauty of the islands of Vanuatu hits it out of the ballpark.

10) Saona Island (Dominican Republic) – Federica Xotti of travelliAMO

Saona Island (Dominican Republic)

Saona Island (Dominican Republic)

Saona Island, a tropical island which is located a short distance from the mainland on the south-east tip of the Dominican Republic. It is a nature reserve, protected by the government, and it’s a part of the East National Park.  The Island was baptized “Saona” by Christopher Columbus, who discovered it in May 1494, in Honor of the Italian city “Savona”. It is the stereotypical desert island, with white sand, blue water and thousands of tall palms. It is a popular destination for tourists from all over the Dominican Republic, who arrive in fleets of catamarans and small motorboats on organized excursions every day.

11) Boa Vista (Cape Verde) – Claire hales of Lily Travella

Boa Vista, Cape Verde

Boa Vista, Cape Verde

The Island is famous for the natural beauty and because it has been used on many occasions by film-makers and advertisers setting for their film or product, such as the Bounty chocolate bars.  Very close to this Island is easy to find very big starfishes and there are also lots of varieties of fishes and birds.

12) Socotra (Yemen) – Nicole Smoot of Adventures of Lil Nicki

Socotra (Yemen)

Socotra (Yemen)

Socotra is an otherworldly island located in the Arabian Sea squished between a rock and a hard place: Yemen and Somalia (technically Socotra is a territory of Yemen).  Socotra is home to many endemic species including the strange dragon blood trees and the desert rose as well as many pristine and to me (who I consider a beach snob aficionado) the most beautiful beaches in the entire world.

13) Koh Lanta (Thailand) – Tarah and Tip Vongbouthdy of Fit two travel

Koh Lanta, Thailand

Koh Lanta, Thailand

Koh Lanta is a tiny piece of heaven with very little disruption. White, sandy beaches, rolling hills, snorkeling, and gorgeous multi-colored sunsets, what more could you want? There’s something so beautiful about walking along the beach while watching the sun set over the Andaman Sea, with a cocktail in hand. If you’re looking for a beautiful, quiet island to relax while in Thailand, Koh Lanta is the place for you.

14) Big Island in Hawaii (USA) – Jess Smith of Cascadian Rythm

Big Island in Hawaii (USA)

Big Island in Hawaii (USA)

With both beaches and volcanoes, Hawai’i is fantastically diverse. Surprisingly untouristy, you might find yourself alone with a turtle on one of Hawai’i’s green sand or black sand beaches. My favorite experience was trekking up Mauna Kea for once-in-a-lifetime views of Mauna Loa and Maui at nearly 14,000 elevation.

15) Batanes Islands (Philippines) – Aileen Adalid of iAmAileen

Batanes Islands, Philippines

Batanes Islands, Philippines

Called as the ‘Home of the Winds’, this northern group of islands in the Philippines is an unknown hidden paradise that can instantly capture your heart. With is dramatic coastline, white sandy beaches, lush forests, and picturesque hills, there’s something for everyone here in Batanes!

16) Nusa Lembongan (Indonesia) – Erin Morris of Dream Seek Wander

Nusa Lembongan (Indonesia)

Nusa Lembongan (Indonesia)

Nusa Lembongan is a hidden gem off the east coast of Bali. A small, peaceful, picturesque island paradise infrequently visited by the masses. The friendly locals, cheap prices and beauty will leave you relaxed within the day and wishing you could stay forever.

17) Ischia (Italy) – Simone Lye of The Aussie Flashpacker

Ischia, Italy

Ischia, Italy

Ischia with its stunning beaches, beautiful blue waters, natural hot springs, dramatic cliffs, world class hiking, luxury hotels, colorful villages and a slow paced, relaxed lifestyle is Mediterranean heaven! It was at the end of our two week holiday in Italy that we spent several nights on Ischia Island. Lesser known then the famous Capri, we didn’t really know what to expect, but from the second we caught a glimpse of the charming, stunning island of Ischia – we knew we’d chosen the perfect destination to spend our last few days relaxing in the late summer sunshine. We stayed in stunning Mezzatore Resort & Spa, which is housed in a 16th century fortress and is by far one of my favorite hotels in the world.

18) Corvo Island, Azores (Portugal) – Sandra of Tripper

Corvo Island, Azores (Portugal)

Corvo Island, Azores (Portugal)

This volcanic island, 2800 miles off the coast of Portugal, is the home of approximately 400 people. Small, secluded, but not as isolated anymore as it was 20 years ago (thanks to the Internet). It’s the island I used to travel to every Summer as a kid and definitely the place responsible for my fondest memories. Corvo is UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2007, it’s the smallest island in the country and has the charm of inaccessibility (although flights are a lot more frequent these days).

19) Bigeum-do or Bigeum island (South Korea) – Chris Backe of One Weird Globe

Bigeum-do or Bigeum island (South Korea)

Bigeum-do or Bigeum island (South Korea)

Bigeum-do (Bigeum island) won’t win any awards for the best-known, but in 7 1/2 years of living abroad, it’s one of the most serene. Located about 54 kilometers off the southwestern coast of South Korea, A couple of long, unspoilt beaches are on this virtually uninhabited island, while Seongchisanseong Fortress and Seosansa (Seosan temple) are also here.

20) Flower Island (Philippines) – Stefan and Sebastien of Nomadic Boys

Flower Island, Philippines

Flower Island, Philippines

Flower Island is one of the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. It’s small with only a handful of people at any one time and an hour speedboat ride away from the nearest transport hub: Palawan island. We stayed here in June 2015 and it was our romantic, tropical and paradise like getaway for lots of beach fun, snorkelling, general chilling and some stunning sunsets.

21) Koh Lipe (Thailand) – Hannah and Adam of Getting Stamped

Koh Lipe, Thailand

Koh Lipe, Thailand

Koh Lipe is heaven on earth, it’s also known as “the Maldives of Thailand.” No other island in the world compares to Koh Lipe, it has amazing beaches and the best Thai food in Thailand served while your toes are in the sand. Koh Lipe is small island only accessible by boat with no cars on the island, you can walk everywhere.

22) Mont St. Michel, Normandy (France) – Rhoni Speed of Living Our Life

Mont St. Michel, Normandy (France)

Mont St. Michel, Normandy (France)

This island is as Benedictine Abbey dedicated to the archangel St. Michel.  It also includes the village that grew around the abbey within its walls.  It was built between the 11th and 16th centuries. It and the bay are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

23) Siqujor (Philippines) – Karla Ramos of Karla Around The World

Siqujor (Philippines)

Siqujor (Philippines)

It’s a quiet place that’s less known to people, turning this almost untouched beauty into a paradise. It’s the perfect place to go for a vacation when all you want to do is relax by  a long stretch of white sand beach, you can add a twist of adventure by riding motorcycles, jumping off cliffs or impersonating Jane from Tarzan.

24) Koh Samui (Thailand) – Lyndsay Cabildo of Discount Travel Blogger

Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui, Thailand

There are a lot of beautiful islands and beaches in Thailand but I particularly like Koh Samui because you can have the best of both worlds. I mean, island living and western civilization. Like, you can find any International cuisine in the island or just simply enjoy the street food anytime. You can enjoy your peaceful humble beachfront bamboo bungalow lifestyle or in a high end beach view condo with all the amenities.

25) Borneo (Shared by Malaysia, Indonesia & Brunei) – Anne Slater-Brooks of TravelTheGlobe4Less

Borneo (Malaysia)

Borneo (Malaysia)

Borneo has it all – amazing sunsets, a volcano, incredible dive reefs, rainforest (pictured) and of course wildlife. Staying in a log cabin in the rainforest with torrents of rain clattering onto the roof lulling me to sleep is a treasured memory!

26) Folegandros (Greece) – Melissa Giroux of A Broken Backpack

Folegandros (Greece)

Folegandros (Greece)

You need to know that Folegandros (in the Southern Cyclades) is not a touristic island.  It’s a quiet place where you can enjoy the beach to yourself, the “Chora” (main picturesque town) and the views. I had the chance to enjoy a rich experience as a free camper on this island, sleeping under the stars, far away from the land.

27) Tierra del Fuego (Chile and Argentina, Patagonia) – Kimberly Davies from Walkaboot

Tierra del Fuego (Chile and Argentina, Patagonia)

Tierra del Fuego (Chile and Argentina, Patagonia)

Tierra del Fuego is the Island at the end of the world, or ‘El fin del mundo”. Shared between Chile and Argentina, this island is one part desert flat and one part harsh mountain. With glaciers, waterfalls, flora, fauna and everything in between, this diverse island is one of the most beautiful on the planet. The southernmost city in the world resides here, Ushuaia, a stunning town sitting on Darwin’s Beagle Channel and surrounded by mountains.

28) Whitsunday Island (Australia) – Sarah Alexandra George

Whitsunday Island, Australia

Whitsunday Island, Australia

Among turquoise waters lies the beautiful Whitsunday Island, the biggest of the group of islands in the Great Barrier Reef that Captain Cook himself once stumbled upon. Even today you will feel like an adventurer arriving at the deserted shores of pure white sand – the sand on Whitehaven Beach is so pure in fact (98% silica) that it’s protected! Only NASA is allowed to take it away – to make telescope lenses. Imagine that – the sand from this far flung paradise is used to gaze at stars.

29) Bali (Indonesia) – Laura of Travelers Universe

Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia

The Island of Gods as Bali has been nicknamed is the most breathtaking, exotic and Zen place I’ve ever visited. Everything about it is fascinating. I’ll never forget the beats of nature as the incredibly loud insects woke me up every morning and the fragrant plumeria trees that wrapped me in their hypnotic scent wherever I went. Or the incredible temples, lush rice paddies and fascinating Ubud. Yes, if you ever make it to Bali, make sure you check out Ubud. Bring an extra luggage and get in shopping mood.

30) Turks and Caicos Islands (Island Country) – Alexa Albanese of She Tells Travel Tales

Turks and Caicos Islands (Island Country)

Turks and Caicos Islands (Island Country)

Turks and Caicos Islands are a beautiful spot for a relaxing getaway vacation and to just hang out on the beach. The chain of islands is super laid back, with absolutely gorgeous views over the Caribbean Sea and guaranteed perfect weather. There’s not much night life so it’s a perfect place to just bring a book and soak up the sun.

31) Gili Trawangan (Indonesia) – Jenny Lowthrop of She Gets Around

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Gili Trawangan, one of three Gili islands just off Lombok in Indonesia. There is no motorized transport and the islands are filled with fun loving backpackers and locals chilling out while sipping coconuts and listening to the waves lapping by your feet. I spent a week here relaxing, snorkeling and making new friends.

32) Rottnest Island, Western Australia – Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is less than an hour by ferry from Perth but it’s a complete break from the city. There are no cars on the island and you can circumnavigate it by bicycle in a couple of hours – or a whole day, if you stop for swims at some of the gorgeous beaches.

33) Matacawalevu Island (Fiji) – Nikki Godwin of Where Is Noodles

Matacawalevu Island (Fiji)

Matacawalevu Island (Fiji)

Matacawalevu Island is the epitome of paradise and the perfect place to unwind. A hilly, volcanic island, it has one of the longest white sand beaches in the Yasawas and is surrounded by a beautiful blue lagoon. I think it’s fair to say I had to endure a “terrible” case of a hammock-coma by the time I left.

34) The Perhentian Islands (Malaysia) – Bethaney Davies of Flashpacker Family

The Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

The Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

The Perhentians are two islands 10 miles of the East coast of Malaysia in the South China Sea. Perhentian Besar is more upscale and family-oriented while Perhentian Kecil is home to the local village and more backpacker friendly. Popular with divers and snorkellers, these islands have the most crystal clear water I’ve ever seen and lots of marine life right off the beach on coral reefs. Going at the right time of year is vital when visiting the Perhentian Islands. The weather is only good here from May until September. If you plan on visiting in these months, book ahead as accommodation sells out months in advance.

35) Jekyll Island, Georgia (USA) – Natalie Vereen-Davis of Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island, Georgia

I love Jekyll Island because it combines a gorgeous beach and some incredible American history. The Jekyll Island Club Hotel was once the private hunting lodge of America’s elite around the turn of the 20th century; the Vanderbilts, Pulitzers, and Carnegies would vacation there during the winter months. You can stay in the restored lodge right on the riverfront side of the island, then bike along the miles of trail to see Driftwood Beach or sunbathe on the Atlantic side of the island.

36) Tinaga Island (Philippines) – Jayce of Chasing Jayce

Tinaga Island, Calaguas Group of Islands, Philippines

Tinaga Island, Calaguas Group of Islands, Philippines

An hour of boat ride away from the mainland, the Tinaga Island is a true sight for seasick eyes with its unspoiled beauty. Fast becoming a camping hotspot in the Philippines, this island paradise boasts of sparkling beach waters lapping gently over miles of powdery white sand.

37) Bora Bora (French Polynesia) – Mar Pages of Once in a Lifetime Journey

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

This is the Intercontinental Thalasso Resort & Spa in Bora Bora’s motu, the outer reef that protects the Bora Bora Lagoon. Not sure the beach has a name but it is stunning when captured from the air. See the open sea on the right of the motu and the clear shallow waters inside.

38) Kosrae (Micronesia) – Ashley Tippins of Standby Sojourners

Kosrae (Micronesia)

Kosrae (Micronesia)

Kosrae is one of the four island states of the Federated States of Micronesia, an island chain stretching 2,700 km across the western Pacific Ocean just north of the equator. Kosrae is small and relatively unknown, making it a perfect off the beaten path excursion for the adventurous traveler. Besides world class diving, the island is home to ancient ruins, WWII relics and endemic species found nowhere else on earth. More importantly, the Kosraen people are some of the nicest on earth and go out of their way to make visitors feel like they are right at home on this tiny, exotic map dot.

39) Coron (Philippines) – Liz Villasenor of Lizzie Meets World

Coron, Palawan, Philippines

Coron, Palawan, Philippines

Coron Island is a stunning white-sand beach in northern Palawan, Philippines.  With its crystal clear waters and rare wildlife, it is the perfect island for snorkeling, wreck diving, and trekking.  It’s still not as popular as the other party beaches in the Philippines, which makes it perfect for slow travelers who just want to sunbathe lazily and sip fresh coconut juice.

40) Manono (Samoa) – Shandos Cleaver of Travelnuity

Manono, Samoa

Manono, Samoa

Manono is the third largest island in Samoa, yet it only takes about a hour to walk around following the main “highway” (there’s only a footpath, no roads, and electricity was only introduced in 1995).  Laid-back and peaceful, the island is perfect for relaxing, swimming and snorkelling on the surrounding coral reef (arrange a boat trip with your accommodation).

41) Tenerife, in the Canary Islands (Spain) – Ana Kondenko of Caffeine Berry

Tenerife, in the Canary Islands (Spain)

Tenerife, in the Canary Islands (Spain)

It is home to an active Volcano called Teide. The island has beautiful black sanded beaches, amazing restaurants and quaint villages.

42) Kauai in Hawaii (USA) – Carole Terwilliger Meyers OF Travels with Carole

Kauai, Hawaii, U.S.

Kauai, Hawaii, U.S.

Known as the “garden island,” Kauai is poshly green and is indeed filled with fabulous gardens—many of which you can visit or tour.  I also love the wild chickens and the completely casual ambiance.  I’ve visited the island around five times, and can’t wait to go again.

43) Mykonos (Greece) – Phileas Fogg of Phileas Fogg adventures

Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos or the “Island of the Winds” is a Greek island in the Aegean sea with stunning crystal waters. My favorite beach is Psarou with its clear blue waters and the luxurious environment. A must-visit club is Semeli. Except from the amazing music and the cocktails, I witnessed the most breathtaking sunrise of my life.

44) Burano (Italy) – Hadas Aharon of The Fashion Matters

Burano (Italy)

Burano (Italy)

Island is well known for its lacemaking craft and colorful houses. The Island itself is very small and therefore a day-trip from Venice is advised. The charming island will leave you speechless as you will feel like you’re in a Disney fairytale. Besides the picturesque houses and boats, the main attraction of the island is the Lace Museum which is definitely worth a visit.

45) Lefkada (Greece) – Anna Giannarou of Aspects of Style

Lefkada, Greece

Lefkada, Greece

Lefkada easily gets the top spot of the most beautiful island I’ve ever seen mainly for its beaches. Porto Katsiki (pictured) is the most popular one, but I also like Egremni(literally meaning cliffs)! The beauty of the island doesn’t stop at the beaches though, as there is more to explore (hidden waterfalls anyone?) and to taste (the local cuisine is amazing)!

46) Nacula Island (Fiji) – Katrina Houston of The Two Week Traveler

Nacula Island (Fiji)

Nacula Island (Fiji)

Nacula Island, at the very end of the Yasawa Island chain in Fiji, is literally the definition of a tropical paradise: crystal clear turquoise water, white sugar sand beaches, warm island breeze, and the feeling that you have the whole beach to yourself. Since it’s so far from Nadi, the Fijian capital, very few people make it out to Nacula. The island is populated by only an eco-resort and a small native village.

47) Crete (Greece) – Monica Sharma of Travel Sight

Crete, Greece

Crete, Greece

What I love most about Crete are its people. The inhabitants of this large, yet tiny island have an unquestionable passion and love for the island, its past, and their way of life. This multi dimensional island combines gorgeous scenery, kind people, and delicious food. Balos Lagoon and Elafonisi (pink sand beach) were two of my favorite beaches in Greece. I developed a mild obsession for dakos, a traditional Cretan dish of barley crisps topped with the ripest diced tomatoes, olive oil, white cheese, and capers. Dakos and a frappe makes for a fantastic snack while you’re watching a Cretan sunset.

48) Iceland (Island Country) – Maria Alexandra Laborde of Latina Abroad

Iceland

Iceland

I fell deeply in love with Iceland’s eerie geography. I never imagined I would encounter such landscapes. Everywhere I looked, I saw what I imagined to be snapshots from a different planet. What’s crazy is I was not even meant to visit! I just “got lucky” with a free 6-day stopover, included on the cheapest ticket I could find from Morocco to Puerto Rico.

49) Okinawa (Japan) – Piritta of Bizarre Globe Hopper

Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa has beautiful beaches and intriguing history. There are many Unesco World Heritage SItes, for example Nakijin-jo, a castle from the Ryukyuan era of feodal Japan. Okinawa has great barbeque and fish food and many of the residents speak English. Don’t miss the markets in Naha, and a taste of Habushu, a traditional sake which has a venomous Habushu snake in it.

50) Kefalonia (Greece) – Melissa Jones of Footsteps On The Globe

Kefalonia (Greece)

Kefalonia (Greece)

As the largest of the Ionian Islands off the coast of Greece, Kefalonia offers travellers the most beautiful array of beaches set against the bluest seas in Europe. Dramatic mountain landscapes and pine forests serve as a backdrop to fishing villages with traditional taverns and candy-coloured Venetian buildings. It is heaven on earth for true paradise seekers.

51) Schiermonnikoog Island (Netherlands) – Kate Hrynevych of Viajamos Juntos

Schiermonnikoog Island, Netherlands

Schiermonnikoog Island, Netherlands

The Monk’s Island is a very special one thanks to three special features. First, the cars are not allowed there, only bicycles and horses, which makes it an eco-friendly island. Second, the inhabitants are really happy to live there, and sicerely don´t understand why people immigrate; I spent an hour explaining a girl how come that a Ukrainian lives in Spain… And finally, you may practice Wadlopen, a kind of hiking… on mud-flats… discovering hundreds of creatures living in those tidal flats. Isn´t Schiermonnikoog Island worth being among your favorites?

52) Santorini (Greece) – Tryphena Wade of We Don’t Sit On Couches

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

The island is made from volcanic activity and includes a cluster of islands around it. There are beautiful beaches, amazing views, and wonderful activities!

53) Nevis (Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis) – Charli & Ben of Wanderlusters 

Nevis (Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis)

Nevis (Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis)

Nevis is somewhat of an anomaly among the Caribbean’s chain of paradisaical islands. While much of the region plays host to over-crowded beaches and luxury marinas, Nevis has retained it’s roots and escaped tourism driven over-development. Here you’ll find island traditions such as net fishing and farming are still an integral part of daily life, and you’re more likely to get caught in a traffic jam of wild donkeys and goats that vehicles. The landscapes are verdant and volcanic and the beaches are deserted. It really is paradise!

54) Puerto Princesa (Philippines) – Sarah Zonio of Xam Julliarde

Puerto Princesa (Philippines)

Puerto Princesa (Philippines)

The sound of crashing waves making its way onshore, the smell of saltiness in the air and the cool wind breezing through every part of your body; that’s my definition of happiness, serenity and utter perfection. For me, that’s Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

55) Havelock Island (India) – Sonal and Sandro of Drifter Planet (Yes, that’s us)

Beach #5 THIS spot! Perfect for chilling on the hammock

Havelock Island, India

Havelock island is a part of Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, which is one of the most remote parts of the planet. This Island has EVERYTHING it takes to be the ultimate backpacker’s destination Island. The best part? Well, it has some of the most beautiful beaches in Asia which are right out of a tropical paradise movie or a travel magazine cover. This island will charm you with its powder soft white sand, clear blue water, lush forest, exotic tropic birds and colorful marine life. Oh and it’s affordable for even the most tightfisted backpackers.

Do you like our collection of 55 Best Islands in the world as REVEALED by Top Travel Writers?

How many of these stunning islands have you visited already? Which one will you visit next? Let us know in the comments.

If you like it, then please share with your friends and family. It will help them plan their next trip.

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55 Best Islands in the world: REVEALED by Top Travel Writers

55 Best Islands in the world: REVEALED by Top Travel Writers

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A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sonal Kwatra Paladini

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